One of the most insidious symptoms of being lukewarm is a lack of pain. Leprosy is like that. It damages your nerves so you can’t feel any pain. You’re slowly being destroyed by the disease, but you just don’t feel it. The lukewarm soul is slowly being destroyed as well, and yet there is no discomfort. To even become aware that you are lukewarm, you need a jolt. You need to be shocked out of your complacency. How did I realize I was lukewarm? My wife embarrassed me.

I married up. I didn’t know it at my wedding. I thought we had both married well. I married up, way up. I was very into my job, and I was into woodworking tools, and I was... well, come to think about it, that was all. My wife would occasionally tell me about an article she had just read about how to be praying parents, or an article that discussed prophecy, and so on. I would raise my eyebrows and take it from her with feigned interest, and I would never read the article. One day she told me that it seemed like all I read was tool catalogs. She told me, it seemed like I didn’t care at all about spiritual things anymore. I was shocked and I was defensive. Now, I’m a pretty clever fella. I’ve tossed out some terribly witty and biting comebacks in my day. On that day I looked her straight in the eye, reached back into my treasure trove of stinging retorts and said, “Nuh uh.” I was embarrassed and defenseless because it was true. She was right. So I did what I usually do on the occasions when my wife calls me on the carpet. I became impassive. I waited, and I didn’t do anything. A couple of weeks later, when it looked like it was my idea, I took action (have I mentioned that I married up?).

I was a dope to think that I needed to be hugely blessed or empowered by God to begin my spiritual journey. The story of King Saul shows us that great gifts given to a lukewarm man will only result in a gifted and lukewarm man. I simply needed to respond to God’s prompting. Occasionally, God’s prompting sounds very much like the voice of our wives.

I joined a men’s group at our church. It centered around a Bible study, but I have to tell you that the Bible study is not what made the difference for me. I already knew all of those stories and concepts. It was as if my faith had good bones but nothing on them—no skin, no muscle, no flesh and blood. What made a difference for me were the men in the group. I bonded with one in particular. Brian loved God like I had not seen in a long time. This was the flesh and blood that I needed. I needed to see a real love for God lived out by a real man. He inspired me; I wanted to be like him. Then I met up with a group of guys in my Sunday school class who were also deeply in love with God. These men were constantly wrestling against incorrect or insufficient notions of Christ. They loved Him so much that they wouldn’t settle for anything but true-truth. I was inspired and I wanted to love God the way they did. We talked about the beauty of God, the holiness of God, and the passion God has for us. I started to think about Him differently—my soul breathed. We read books by solid, Christian authors, and we’d argue over them, not to win an argument, but to get all of the juice we could out of them. I started to see Christ differently. He had been confusing and ethereal before, but little by little I started to understand that He’s the only One who could make sense of the chaos around me. He is real and present. These godly men taught me that to “do what Jesus did” is too small of a goal. They taught me that I need to start thinking like He thinks, to love what He loves, and hate what He hates. They taught me that I need to believe what Jesus believes! My soul breathed deeply and grew. I used to obey Him so I would be blessed, but this was a different thing entirely. I started to obey Him because I love Him.

I crawled out of the mire of the lukewarm. Men who fiercely love God are infectious, and we need more of them badly. If you don’t have a few in your life, make it a quest to find some. Find them and be with them a lot. Then for cryin’ out loud become one yourself, and look around for some lukewarm knucklehead. Take him under your wing. Let him see how refreshing and invigorating it is be around a man who is devoted to Christ out of love. Then help him to love Christ too.